22 Jan

Is it Safe for Children to Take Modafinil?

Every year we find new studies and reports that reveal intriguing new applications for modafinil. Seeing as it’s widely popular among university students for its ability to help you study and learn, you might wonder if it’s okay for younger people, perhaps secondary students, to take the pill. While conclusive evidence is still scarce, there are some interesting finds that suggest modafinil could be very useful for young people.

What the makers say

The official posture as stated on Provigil’s website is that modafinil should not be taken by people under 18. This is in part due to legal issues. A pharmaceutical company by law cannot market its medicines for anyone who was not part of their clinically approved trials. In most cases, clinical trials include everyone 18 and up, however there are some exceptions. Certain products marketed towards older people for instance may not have included people in their teens or twenties. From personal experience, I was interested in getting implanted contact lenses due to my terrible myopia, but was refused at the time as the clinical testing had only been done on people 21 and older.

What this means is that the safety of modafinil on children and teens has not been thoroughly tested by the manufacturer and therefore they cannot sell it or market it to that group. But does that mean it isn’t safe?

Studies say it’s safe for children to take modafinil.

This study from back in 2005 was performed on 248 individuals ranging from 6 years of age to 17. The goal of the test was to evaluate whether modafinil could be beneficial as a treatment for ADHD. ADHD is on the rise in developed nations, with anywhere between 5 and 10% of children at risk. The current default treatment for ADHD involves amphetamine-based medicines, which have a higher potential for abuse. In the United States many teens sell their ADHD pills to other students to get a buzz or a high which some describe as similar to cocaine. In addition, amphetamine-based medicines can be addictive and difficult to quit.

When researchers looked at the effects of modafinil on the brain, they saw an opportunity to attack ADHD, and launched this investigation. The results, per the study, were excellent:

Conclusions. Modafinil film–coated tablets significantly improved ADHD symptoms at school and home as evaluated by clinicians, teachers, and parents. Treatment with once-daily modafinil was generally well tolerated, with few discontinuations as a result of adverse events.

Another major advantage found in this study was that most of the children did not experience severe side-effects. While we often talk about headaches or insomnia as troublesome issues with modafinil, researchers for children were more concerned about loss of appetite leading to anorexia. This is a common occurrence among children who take amphetamines for ADHD, and it can be a real problem as children need to maintain sufficient caloric intake to spur their physical development.

The study shows that anorexia caused by loss of appetite was considerably lower with modafinil than for amphetamines and the potential for abuse was also much lower.

So, is it safe for children to take modafinil?

The study would suggest that yes, it is. However you should talk to your doctor before administering modafinil to your child as it could have an adverse reaction with other medications he or she might be taking. Also, if you’re a teen and you’re looking to improve your academic performance with modafinil, keep in mind that simply taking a pill doesn’t magically improve your grades. You must be organized, ready to work, and in the right mindset to tackle that stack of papers or crack open the history book that’s been collecting dust on your desk.